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    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

Nikolai

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Quite an overwhelming experience.
 
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EliasTobias

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aar_lab.jpeg

I let out a yawn. We have been observing this Psionic crystal that Rodrig den Armok had found in New Podici for the past thirteen hours. It has had a surge of activity lately, so there's no turning back if we had gone this far with it already.

The crystal is stored in a glass tube, with several recording equipment such as thermometers, microphones, and video cameras keeping tabs on it.

As I am on the verge of sleep, I am jolted awake as the computer rings. Someone is calling the lab.

"Jorim, can you get the computer?" one of my colleagues says to me.

I quickly sit on the chair and check the caller; it's Rodrig den Armok. Right now he is on the HOS Lurrion science ship, awaiting any discoveries that may allude to other Zroni locations.

I boot up the call. "Ah, Jorim! Do you have any updates on the crystal?"

"Something weird, Rodrig. The crystal appears to be emitting some sort of gas. It has been steadily growing for the past thirteen hours and now the tube is completely engulfed in that gas," I say to him. "We are still analyzing the gas. But as a precautionary measure, we decided to actively filter the air and don hazard suits."

"That's it?"

"Jorim! We are currently reading increasing energy levels, what should we do?"

"Wait, hang on Rodrig," I utter. I then say to my colleague, "The environment in the tube is non-conductive, but keep watching it just in case it goes- "

A thunderous noise suddenly rocks the room, and the room slowly disappears before my eyes.

I don't feel my body, but I can see that I am being led somewhere. I am dragged out of the laboratory, out of Nordam, then out of the Gaullia system. I drift above several stars, and I end up in another star system, the Aulder system. I fly past the Nommarian outpost and into the arid world in the system: Tetramonda.

I fly through the dry steppes and a few of migrating herds of unnamed animals. Then I stumble upon another abandoned colonial ruins that are eerily similar to the top of the ancient skyscraper in New Podici. However, it is submerged in a sea of sound and hard earth, its segments are ruined and destroyed, unlike the one found in New Podici.

aar_zroni_tetra.jpeg


I am suddenly taken out of the trance and I wake up surrounded by my colleagues.

"Thank Divine, Jorim!" says one of them.

"What did you see?"

"I saw a Minor Zroni Colony in Tetramonda, tell Rodrig to go there."
______________________________________________

aar_view_tetramonda.jpeg

The science ship flies over the sandy surface of Tetramonda, leaving behind thick clouds of dust in its wake. As I stare outside of the window, I begin to see towering ruins atop a giant sand hill that covers two of the three stars that govern form he Aulder system. At the bottom of the hill appears to be a metallic entrance similar to the one found in New Podici.

"Jorim," I call. "Are these the ruins you saw?"

Jorim walks toward the large window in front of me. "Yes, I saw these ruins when I encountered the crystal."

Our pilot lands the science ship toward the hills and we prepare to head out. I put on my brimmed hat and a mask to block out any dust and sand in the air, Jorim and the rest bring in their lamps and flashes. As we take the elevator of the ship and my boots step on the soft sand of the surface.

We turn on the lamps and flashes. Right now, the planet is entering its night phase. This was planned. We know that the environment would be significantly cooler at night and that marching in at day would catch our feathers on fire.

We walk toward the ruined doors and we immediately bump into our first problem. See, while the ruins in New Podici were still functioning, this isn't. The doors simply won't give way and no robotic voice to greet us.

"Jorim, I think we may need to blow the doors open. Can you get the dynamite?" I say.
______________________________________________
We're back in the HOS Lurrion and I can't describe how glorious it is to feel the air conditioned breeze in the ship after spending the last six hours in the ruins. The dynamite caused some holes to pop out inside and the sandy hill that engulfed it began to flood it with sand. So, we spent around four hours clearing the area out.

Another separating factor of these ruins from the ones in New Podici is that the damages here appear to be more deliberate, like these were the ruins of a great war. Although these may have be because of a natural disaster of damages from being submerged in a sandy hill for a millenia or so.

However, we managed to find another crystal. This time, it didn't bring out a billion overwhelming voices, but it spoke to us normally. I have recorded its sayings into my journal log.

aar_tetramonda.PNG

What the crystal told us reminds us of the way certain Yondar vessels travel to holy worlds. Could it be that the Yondar were not the first to harness the Shroud? If so, then it may cause some serious discrepancies within the Nommarian faith. I think that it would be best if we hold off on these findings, perhaps this problem will be resolved as we continue to learn more of these precursors.

The rest of the HOS Lurrion team funnel into the sleeping quarters and I set the ships' computer for a course to the system the crystal told us where another colony lies, then I head to the sleeping quarters for my own rest as well.
______________________________________________
 
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All very enticing
 
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EliasTobias

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chap1_heart.jpeg


"As of now, the recent discoveries with these precursors appear to contradict pre-existing theological notions, that is why if I were you, your holiness, I would hold off on publishing these findings by Rodrig den Armok," says Ruban Haldrim den Rothorag through the video call.

"You're right. As of now, paranoia surrounding the Final Crucible has reduced due to our fleets' recent victory against a major fleet in the Arilos system, but it is still rather high. Publishing a scientific finding that is at odds with Valmic teachings may further undermine the faith and the government," I say. "Tell the Baljon Archaeological Society to continue their research into the Zroni. Perhaps in time, the situation may resolve itself."

"Thank you, your holiness, it will be done. May the Divine bless you," says Haldrim before ending the call.

As I turn off my computer, someone immediately knocks on my door. "Your holiness, it is Barim. I have some news to tell you."

"Come in, Barim."

Barim comes in with a touchpad. "We have a lot of good news today, your holiness," he says. "Your call for rapid expansion in order to harness as many resources as possible, our economy is strong, your holiness."

"Tell me the exact statistics of those resources."

"We get 47 units of energy, 98 minerals, and 26 alloys per months. However, our food gain is middling at 8 per month and our civilian factories are taking a hit in production, likely due to the peace festivals right now. Other than that, we're doing good."

"What else Barim? Do you have any updates on the Final Crucible situation.

"Yes, your holiness. The fleets, underneath the command of Admiral Polosch, have reached the Crucible shipyard ahead of time and they have captured it."

Progress against the Final Crucible has been going well lately. Over 250 people have been outed as members are currently being converted back to the faith. The most interesting part about this is that many of these members actually surrendered themselves to religious officials. This was mainly due to reduced faith in the Final Crucible's radical beliefs with a recent victory against cultist fleet in the Arilos system.

After the initial skirmish in Gaullia, two hostile corvettes were disabled and were boarded by marines from Task Force Kampas. Luckily, one of the corvettes belonged to the enemy admiral, who committed suicide before the marines could reach him. Found with his body was a data drive and it contained valuable information on the cult. Much like our ships, each ship tracks every other ship, so these drives managed to identify the location of a sister fleet. So, the navy dispatched Task Force Gaddlar and Kampas to take it down while Mirasma stands by to escort our science ships from possible guerilla strikes. The only problem this drive had was that it won't track any new ships should the cult acquire any new ones.

The sister fleet was found in the Arilos system. It was far more powerful than the fleet we faced off against in Gaullia, boasting an imposing battleship known as the "Temple of Light."

aar_engaging_temple.jpeg

The battleship was heavily armed and was supported my numerous corvettes. It was a hard-fought battle with several casualties, but a victorious one. The battleship was then disabled and a boarding party was sent to capture crew and any intelligence.

Just like the previous fleet, they found the Admiral who led the fleet dead on the floor after she shot herself. Also like the initial fleet, a module that tracked other, smaller, guerrilla fleets. Task Force Mirasma managed to fend off several these fleets as it escorted our science ships thanks to this intel.

However, Admiral Polosch expressed concerns that fleets like these could have never been gained purely by stealing them. But through the interrogation of several high-ranking prisoners, we eventually found out their source of ships: a shipyard. As it turns out, an inside man hijacked one of our construction ships and built a ship in the Gromos system, which is rather far from our territories.

We then dispatched the three fleets for a pre-emptive strike on the shipyard whilst the Final Crucible are unaware that we know of its location.
______________________________________________________________________
Admiral Polosch's imposing voice blares from the comms, "All ships put hyperdrive on standby."

"Captain Jardur, hyperdrive is on standby!" shouts Lieutenant Hullos through the HOS Camdur's radios.

"All ships prepare to enter hyperspace in ten... nine..."

"Ten seconds! Prepare the weapons!"

"Eight... Seven..."

"Weapons ready!"

"Six... Five..."

"Lieutenant Tarrob, check out shields and energy supply," Captain Jardur says to me.

"Four... Three."

I boot up the computer. "Shields ready, power consumption is moderate."

"Two... One..."

The Camdur shakes violently as we enter hyperspace, the ship is rapidly travelling in a tube-like ray of light alongside the other ships. As part of routine, I check my computer to check on any FTL damage or any interference with our equipment. So far, the jump is good with a only a few burn marks on our armor here and there, but it's no issue.

The ship exits hyperspace and a wave of energy comes out if it as we finally enter the Gromos system. I stare out of the front window and I see it: the Final Crucible shipyard, the fleet that guards it, this truly is the heart of heresy.

"ALL FORCES WEAPONS READY! PREPARE FOR COMBAT!" shouts Admiral Polosch.

Our ship rockets forward alongside the armada of corvettes and destroyers charging at the fleet and the shipyard. The pentagonal pattern of our shields blink in and out of our sight as hostile rounds bounce off of it.

"Missle crew target the interceptor over there," says Captain Jardur as he highlights a ship on the interface. "It has no point defense systems."

"Good hunting, Captain. Preparing to strike."

Missiles fly overhead and they make their way through the void. It strikes the highlighted ship and it explodes after few strikes. These new high-explosive torpedoes really are quite effective.

"Missile crew. Currently reloading next payload. ETA ten minutes."

"Gunship crew keep the pressure going."

A glorious rain of missiles, lasers, and bullets litters the void. Right now, our destroyers tear through the corvettes with the auto-cannons and Final Crucible missiles are shot out of the sky with their numerous interceptor systems.

Eventually, most of the defense fleet was overwhelmed and their corvettes now are either disabled or scattered debris. We now head for the main event: the shipyard

aar_cultist_shipyard.jpeg


Our blue lasers concentrate fire on their weapon systems and the station's kinetic batteries fail to penetrate our shields. A barrage of missiles destroys another missile launcher on the station. Before we could even do anything else, the station's weapon systems are toast and the only thing we have to do is send in a boarding party.
______________________________________________________________________

The cultists run away in retreat down the station's halls as my squadmates gun down several armed Final Crucible gunmen. We continue to advance toward the main bridge of the station, where we suspect that the mysterious Final Crucible Matriarch lies.

We chase them down, my breathe quickens as I run at top speed. But suddenly, I begin to feel lighter and lighter. This makes the trip easier, but my squadmates stop.

"Everyone, I think they're shutting down the station's gravity controls!" says one of them.

"Why do you think so?" I ask.

He tosses his rifle into the air and it falls unusually slowly. It looks like he's right.

"They're trying to slow us down," says our officer. "They're probably trying to escape with the Matriarch."

We run at full pace and our officer says to me, "Shoga, radio the Admiral, tell them to watch for any ships from the hangar."

I boot up my radio. "Bridge Command this is Boarding Squad Ana-Cora. Watch for the hangar bay, the station's grav controls are shutting down, we suspect that the matriarch is trying to escape!"

"Got that Ana Cora," says Admiral Polosch. "Our ships are already taking aim at the hangar and we also see a battleship similar to the one we found in Arilos."

As we run, it become increasingly hard to stay o the ground, and before we know it, we're suspended in a vacuum. It is incredibly difficult to move and we fly through the crowded halls of the station at a snail's pace and sometimes knocking into the ceiling a few times.

"All units we are seeing a battleship fleeing the hangar bay of the station," says a feminine voice on the radio. "Take aim."

"That's the ship the Matriarch is escaping in!" says one of my squadmates.

"Bridge Command this is Boarding Squad Ana-Cora what's the update on the ship? I believe that is where the Matriarch is!"

"Ana-Cora this is bridge command. Unfortunately, the ship has slipped out with an emergency FTL jump. A;; squads please proceed with searching the station."

"Damn it!" shouts our officer.

______________________________________________________________________

"Where they able to seize the cult's matriarch?" I ask Barim.

"No, unfortunately. She escaped in a flagship and slipped past our forces with emergency FTL systems," Barim answers. "Fortunately, the station had the coordinates of the ship. They appear to be seeking repairs in another shipyard far into the Bosas system."

"Are they hunting the flagship down?"

"They are currently repairing and refueling in the captured shipyard. But Admiral Polosch has said that the fleets will head to the system as soon as possible."

"The situation is looking very good for us now. The faith shall prevail in the end."

"Prevail indeed, your holiness.:


______________________________________________________________________
 

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We are currently in the Omag system, the solar system that leads to the Baas system. A couple Final Crucible members in the captured shipyard remained there to assist the escape of their mysterious Matriarch. They remained in the hangar bay, about to commit suicide but were apprehended by our forces, we proceeded to interrogate them, and one of them spat out the location of the flagship.

Our upgraded sensors suggest that the Baas system is a full-fledged mining system. There is single outpost that is significantly weaker than the shipyard, but again, it holds the largest cultist fleet, one that is personally led by the Matriarch herself.

As Admiral of the three fleets, I cannot help but feel proud of myself. Many public publications call me the "Modern Day Saint Somox" or "The Counter-Crucible." I have led these men and women toward victory after victory after these terrorists. And those victories may have prevented many deaths of innocent Nommarians in terror attacks across many worlds.

I boot up the naval comms and send a message for all the ships. "All forces this is Bridge Command. Set your drives on standby; jump to Baas is imminent."

"All ships move to the Baas hyperlane entrance."

The three fleets move forward in perfect unison. Morale is high and our naval officers often make sarcastic shots to mock the Final Crucible. We have that dastardly Matriarch cornered an her foolish followers are either ratted out or drop themselves in front of Priests for conversion. The faith shall prevail.

After a few hours of weapon system checks from all ships, we prepare to head toward the Baas system to chop of the head of the beast so that its body will wither up with it.

"Entering hyperspace if five... four... three... two... one...."

The sound of rolling thunder is heard by everyone in the room as ships enter hyperspace one by one. The HOS Vannam enters it as well and I am blessed with the view of the ship flying through a beam of light.

"Lieutenant Rothorag, any FTL damage?" I ask.

She responds, "None so far. A few burn marks on our hull that's all."

We are nudge forward as the ships exits out of hyperspace and I see the dreaded flagship on the Final Crucible, hovering over the Baas system's sun.

"Admiral, you have a message."

"Bring it up."

A holographic image of a masked Nommar appears before me. I know who this is, this is the Matriarch of the Final Crucible.

"Admiral Polosch. Your fleets may outnumber the holy fleets of the gods, but your own complacence at the sight of a numbers advantage will be your downfall."

"No amount of talking will change your defeat. Your fleets will crash and burn as they are knocked into the sun... you will bow before the Divine and his Yondar Guardians."

"Bow before? Your faith is the faith of slaves, Polosch. Pathetic slaves who bow before old chickens in decline. Nommarians deserve the faith of leaders."

"It is the faith of humility, scumbag," I say to her. "Humility before a people older and greater than ourselves. Something you clearly don't know."

"Mark my words, Polosch. Nordam will welcome my glorious entrance into Podici as the gods finally reclaim their people. We shall celebrate in the streets as we place your head and the head of 'High Ruban' Modrig on silver platters."

"We shall see whose gods are real." I says as I close the transmission. "All ships this is Bridge Command. Charge onward. This fight goes to the Divine!"

Lasers are fired, kinetic rounds fly through the vacuum, and missiles rocket toward the flagship. The Vannam's turrets shread incoming missiles. The battles goes on.

The hostile corvettes fall one by one and eventually, all forces then concentrate fire on the flagship.

"All forces this is Bridge Command. Shoot to disable, we need the Matriarch alive." I then say to our communications officer.

Eventually, our ships hover victoriously over the disabled flagship. Its thrusters are fried, its weapons are disabled. Victory is ours.


aar_victorious_fc.jpeg

I stand in the Vannam's hangar bay as our boarding transport ships return. Once their doors open, I see several Final Crucible members cuffed and guarded by our men. However, I none of them appear to be that important.

"Have you captured the Matriarch?" I ask one of the officers.

He then points toward a few soldiers carrying a body bag. "She committed suicide, just like the other Final Crucible Admirals," he says. "But what's done is done. Her death and the defeat of all Final Crucible fleets should send those heretics a message."

I cannot help but feel a bit frustrated. The Matriarch's terrorist group killed many innocent Nommarians and her actions could have completely destabilized our society as we know it... And she got away with it and didn't live to see the consequences of her evil deeds.

"I'm sure this isn't over yet, but it is certainly the beginning of the end of this radical cult."

"However, we raided the outpost of this system and it seems to indicate the beginning of something else," he says. He then hands me a touchpad with a photo on display. "Not only was the outpost of a distinctively foreign design, but the technology, writing... everything about it was alien to us."


aar_outpost.jpeg

______________________________________________________________________

aar_podici.jpeg

Right now Nommarian society is in an uproar and a new wave of paranoia has swept the nation. I honestly thought that everything would return to normalcy after the Matriarch (whose real identity has been confirmed to be a 45 year-old named Virpim den Badir), but publications telling of an alien empire who supposedly supplied this radical cult with ships and resources has forged a sense of hatred and xenophobia against this "Alpha Menace."

Although some scientists have requested to translate the language of these aliens, they have been dismissed. The longer we can keep their influence out of our society, the better. We even dispatched the HOS Lurrion, which was en-route to the Rommacus system to investigate another Zroni colony, to salvage as much debris as possible to slow down the aliens' progress in translating our language at worst or completely hide our existence at best.

I continue to pack my things into a luggage. I have a trip to the Celestial Throne to discuss matters of state with Emperor K'nuurak because a lot has happened the past three months. The Zroni could undermine the state religion, the Final Crucible, and the discovery of aliens is something that no other High Ruban in our history has dealt with, and I could use the wisdom of the elder race who probably handled these things a hundred times already.

______________________________________________________________________

aar_fejantris.jpeg

Right now, the HOS Lurrion is refueling and dropping off battle debris we recovered from the Baas system in the new shipyard that is west of Gaullia in the Fejantris system . The operation of recovering these debris was perhaps the hardest one yet. Jorim kept track of any alien vessels and we even had to activate an EMP to disable any surveillance systems to hide our operations.

The shipyard's workers haul in a few broken turret barrels, missile debris, and even a few frozen bodies of Final Crucible naval officers who were stranded in space. In fact, that is not all the debris, we actually had to throw some of it into the Baas system's sun because it was beginning to overload our cargo bay.

"The ship's fuel has been restored, sir!" says the masked shipyard employee as he holds a large hose that deposits fuel into the ship.

"Thanks, pal," I say to him, and I walk back inside of the ship.

The rest of the HOS Lurrion crew are either lounging around or observing the crystal we found in Tetramonda. Right now, we are heading to the Rommacus system, where another Zroni Minor Colony is located.

The Lurrion takes off from the hangar bay and we rocket toward the next hyperlane. As we charge up the hyperdrive, we get a ring from our communications beacon. Someone is trying to reach us.

"Where's the transmission from, Shoguk?" I ask.

"Ummm... I don't know, Rodrig..."

______________________________________________________________________

This is the final part of Chapter One. Thank everyone for the support and for taking time to
read this chapter.

After this chapter I will post an overview, which is a summary of the Holy Nommar Order after chapter one and after that I will post the second chapter:

"Mad Man Thodrig"
 
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Some very important victories
 

EliasTobias

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chap1_overview_header.jpeg


PROLOGUE & CHAPTER ONE: MODRIG DEN VATORIS
For many centuries, the Nommar species and its homeworld of Nordam were guided by an elder race known as the Yondar Guardians, and it is through them that the Nommar species were unified underneath one faith and eventually, one government.

The Yondar Guardians would continue to guide the Nommarians technologically and spiritually. Yondar would send scientists, preachers, and officials to guide the Nommar. Eventually, in the year 2198, the technology of hyperdrives was finally researched.

Following this discovery, High Ruban Feldrim den Sukar then resigned from his position as the chosen ruler of the Nommar, feeling as though that the responsibility of leading the scion race to the stars is better left to someone else. The Rubans of Nordam then convened in the Celestial Throne for the election of a new High Ruban. They elected Modrig den Vatoris.

THE FINAL CRUCIBLE
Modrig den Vatoris' first months as High Ruban were difficult. The discovery hyperdrives apparently 'fulfilled' an ancient doomsday prophecy of one of the old religions that fell into obscurity after the Yondar intervened in their society. This led to a resurgence of interest in this religion and eventually a radical cult known as the "Final Crucible" was formed and committed numerous terror attacks even during the reign of Feldrim.

As Nommarian society expanded, they eventually began to organize fleets and built in other systems. However, the Final Crucible had inside men in the navy. These men proceeded to hijack several corvettes that were being built and took to the stars to terrorize the off-world operations of the Holy Nommar order.

This new fleet tried to launch an attack on the primary shipyard in the Gaullia system. However, a combined force of three fleets led by Admiral Jorim den Polosch stopped them. Boarding crews then discovered several data drives on the ship that revealed that this was not the only fleet that the Final Crucible hand

NEW PODICI
Meanwhile, a new colony was then founded in the neighboring system of Chandar called New Podici. As the colonists began to establish large farms, several explorers stumbled upon colonial ruins.

Rodrig den Armok, a science officer of the Baljon Archaeological Society, boarded his science ship and went to New Podici to investigate it. Upon completing his expedition to the tundra world, he discovered that the ruins belonged to a seven-million year-old civilization known as the Zroni through a crystal he found that had some form of intelligence. They apparently mastered the same Psionic abilities the Yondar possess.

THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE
The crystal Rodrig and his team found in the ruins then revealed the location of another colony in the Arid Tetramonda planet. Upon investigation, the ruins
differ wildly from the ones in New Podici. While the first ones were only abandoned, the ruins in Teteramonda were more deliberate, as if it was ruined by combat. They found another crystal in those ruins that revealed the location of another, major colony in the Rammacus system.

HEART OF HERESY
After engaging a large cultist fleet, suspicions began to rise because fleets of such size could have never been built purely from petty theft. After openinga data drive, the navy finally got their answer.

The cult also seized a construction ship that was in the shipyard and built a shipyard in the Gromos system. Although was still unknown as to where they got the resources to build it.

Admiral Polosch den led a strike force on the ship yard because of suspicions that the Final Crucible's mysterious Matriarch apparently being there. Although the strike force managed to capture the ship yard, the Matriarch managed to escape in her massive flagship alongside a few corvettes into the Baas system.

"ALPHA MENACE"
The fleets of Admiral Polosch arrive in the Baas system and engage with the Matriarch's fleet. The system appeared to be fully developed, with an outpost and several mining stations, which was supposedly where the cult extracted their resources. The two fleets then battled and Admiral Polosch came out on top.

However, boarding crews who raided the outpost of the system found evidence that the system did not belong to the cult at all. The outpost and the mining stations had a foreign design that was completely unrecognizable. Could it be that an alien power, an "Alpha Menace," supported this radical cult?
______________________________________________________________________

Our economy is efficient, but our economic experts wish to see further improvement. Rapid expansion both in territory and in the military, in order
to keep up with the Final Crucible, take huge chunks of energy. However, increasing amounts of technicians in St. Rodrig and farmers in New Podici may lead
to improvements in our economy.

chap1_overview_economy.jpeg


The Holy Nommar Order was able to establish two colonies, with third one expected to be in the Mezkeban system. These two colonies are New Podici in the Chandar System, as well as St. Rodrig in St. Rodrig's star.

chap1_overview_colony.jpeg


High Ruban Modrig den Vatoris led a campaign of rapid expansion for the Holy Nommar Order. The empire has grown exponentially and for a good reason. If we are to thrive alone, we will have to harness as many resources as possible.

chap1_overview_territory.jpeg


______________________________________________________________________

 
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stnylan

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Pretty solid early expansion
 
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EliasTobias

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Me and my fellow pupils walk down the slums of the city of Gorkahn in the Baljon region of Nordam. Some of the loiterers, vendors, canteen cooks, and customers look at us with suspicion, curiosity, or intrigue. Our pupil robes give away our occupation as students in the St. Jorim's Academy. However, I look at our Piram Pedrig den Piriam. His head is pointed at the floor and I can tell that he is scared of the bystanders of these slums.

The city of Gorkahn is the wealthiest city in Baljon, but has recently been hit by a clerical scandal as several of its Rubans and Priests were caught in a complicated web that connected it to the Baljonese mafia. The police found out that the Baljonese clerical order used these connections to collect large amounts of money from the slums of the city. After the police published their findings, the poor of Gorkahn were furious as the clergy because they were responsible for all of the suffering they endured. It is no surprise as to why over 35% of Final Crucible members were Baljonese.

aar_gorkahn.jpeg

That is why we are here. We are heading toward a homeless shelter that was recently built by a Baljonese Acolyte in order to mend relations with the poor of the area.

When we get there, the Acolyte quietly greets us and she proceeds to lead us to the mess hall of the shelter, where several Baljonese men, women, and children are lined up in front of the counter and are being served food by other female Acolytes.

Piram Pedrig then says to her, "Thank you so much Acolyte Rimok, your assistance is appreciated."

"It is what is right."

As assigned, we all get our own meals and the acolytes serve us the standard Baljonese Butter Porridge in bowls and we take our seats across the people who effectively live in this shelter. I sit across an old man who appears to have isolated himself from all of the other homeless people in the room.

He appears to not take notice as I take my seat. I look at my back and I see the other pupils talking to the person in front of them, so I try to break the silence.

I scoop out some of the porridge from my bowl. "Good morning. What's your name?"

He looks up from his meal. His gray feathers are dry and ruffled, his eyes are graying as well. "My name is Thodrig den Iridar... You've probably heard that name before so don't bug me about it..."

"Wait are you the Thodrig den Iridar?" I can't help but feel utterly fascinated if not a bit star-struck, Thodrig den Iridar was a controversial politician who was very active when our society finally made contact with other alien life other than the Yondar Guardians.

"Yes, I am 'Mad Man Thodrig,' himself," he says. "No need to lecture me on why we need to keep to ourselves now."

"Oh don't worry about that," I say. "My name is Rodrig den Piriam. Don't worry, I'm not exactly here to.. debate."

"Alrighty then... what do you want to talk about?"

"I heard that you've gone to many places back in your hay-day as an envoy. Could you tell about those days?"

He suddenly composes himself. He straightens his back and he looks straight at me with enthusiasm. "It was fantastic, Rodrig. It was fantastic..."
______________________________________________________________________
35 years ago....

"Why must we keep our faith to ourselves when the galaxy awaits the truth? Why must we stay silent and deny other peoples of this great galaxy of salvation?!" I shout, but the people in front of me carry on with their daily lives. "If trust in the Divine is needed to ascend to paradise, why are we going to isolate ourselves from those without faith?"

A young man then shouts back at me, "Because those aliens will do nothing but corrupt our faith and turn us into heretics! Anyway, High Ruban Pedrox IV said that those who died without knowing the faith at all will end up in paradise because they had no fault in it!"

"So what? Should we use that fact to be lazy? To be complacent as other species continue to unknowingly perform great evils?"

"It is not laziness, it is vigilance. The Divine is clearly running us through a filter and those who choose to compromise with infidels will be purified from those who choose to remain faithful to the righteous path," he says back to me. "Our first contact alone helped the Final Crucible."

"Your accusations toward the Emarians are one-sided. We haven't even asked them as to why they harbored them, but I am sure that they had a good reason to do so."

"Good reason?! You truly are an idiot, go on with your preaching and xeno-loving. No one will listen to your madness anyway." The young man leaves the area. Other bystanders look at my with intrigue, having witnessed our little debate.

.....

I have certainly gone further from being seen as a mad preacher in the streets of Podici but now, I stand above those who ridiculed me as I preached in those streets. A Piram named Barim proceeds to straighten my collar and fix my garments.

"You are meeting the High Ruban himself, Thodrig," Barim says. "Make sure you oberve proper etiquette."

"I promise I will."

Barim nods at me reassuringly and he opens the wide doors that lead to the Hall of Saint Somox, where the senators and Rubans convene to discuss politics and other matters of state, I now walk into the room where Nommarian society has been changed countless times. Those who saw me as a mad man can now go ahead and eat their words!

aar_hallof.jpeg


The hall is largely empty except for a few Rubans and politicians ahead of me. However, at the uppermost part, I see the High Ruban standing before. Modrig den Vatoris then says, "Blessings upon you, Thodrig den Iridar."

When I reach the center of the room, other High Rubans stand before me. The air is silent and I know I have to say something.

I say to Modrig, "You have my gratitude for bestowing upon this great opportunity."

"Indeed," says the High Ruban. "It appears that your preaching in Podici has gained quite a following, especially among the youth. Many post your saying in online media and I felt as though we should hear you out. I heard that your beliefs are rather controversial."

"Controversial indeed," says one of the Rubans in front of me. "See, your holiness, he believes that we should try to be more cooperative with the aliens, even if it could jeopardize our faith."

"I'm not saying that we should compromise with unbelievers, but we should be a bit less vigilant with other cultures. After all, our faith originates from aliens called the Yondar," I argue back.

"The difference is that the Yondar are the original faithful and we are fortunate enough to have it bestowed before us. Compare them to the Emarians, who supplied terrorists with supplies," the Ruban says to me.

"Yes, but I think we should try to understand them more. I am sure that the Emarians were mistaken," I say. "In fact, I feel like active communication with other alien empires is a nice way to spread the good word and evangelize people from all around the galaxy."

"But-"

"Wait, I have something to say to Thodrig, Ruban Jargim," says the High Ruban. "So you want us to be more active in galactic affairs?"

"Yes, your holiness. I feel like a good start would be joining the Galactic Community that the Humans and the Iridians started. There, we could help them understand us more and prevent unwanted hostilities."

"That sounds reasonable," says the High Ruban. I see the Ruban named Jargim give me a hostile face. "What else do you suggest?"

"I feel like another good step would be sending an envoy to understand the other aliens and help them understand our ways. The Emarians should be a priority though, especially with how our relations got off on a rocky start."

The other Rubans remain silent. The High Ruban himself even looks a bit surprised with the silence, I feel like this discussion is on my side.

"I feel like Thodrig here has some decent ideas," says one of the Rubans. "I'm in favor of joining the Galactic Community and perhaps sending a few envoys here and there."

"I abstain," says Ruban Jargim.

"The opportunity to evangelize others is a good opporunity. I'll support his proposals."

"I agree."

"I agree too."

The High Ruban then clears his throats. "It is decided then, plans for envoys to be sent to other empires to understand them and join the Galactic Community will be drafted and will be done. You are dismissed, den Iridar. You were very helpful. May the Divine guide you."

"May the Divine guide us all!" I say, joyfully.
______________________________________________________________________
 

stnylan

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My my, quite the revolutionary (if strictly in certain regards).
 
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volksmarschall

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Read through this this morning. Great stuff. Keep up the excellent work mate!

Cheers!
 
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EliasTobias

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Read through this this morning. Great stuff. Keep up the excellent work mate!

Cheers!
Thanks, pal! Cheers to you too!

That's quite a long fall, from the heights of power to the streets of a desolate slum.
Certainly a sad fall, but the story as to how such a fall happened would be rather interesting to see.
 

EliasTobias

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aar_thosein.jpeg


I scoop out a small portion of the porridge and I eat some of it. Thodrig does the same as well.

"You were assigned as the envoy to the Galactic Community, right?" I ask him, as I blow my porridge.

"Oh yes, yes. I encountered a lot of solid people there. There were several places of assembly for the community and there was a five year rotation for where the community would meet. When I arrived, the Community was meeting in the human capital of Geneva. When I arrived there, I was put on quarantine for a few days and the human doctors gave me several shots so that I won't die of any Earth-borne illnesses or carry them back home," answers Thodrig.

aar_geneva.jpeg

"When I got there, everyone gave me weird looks. See, every empire in the community had a group of six or more of their species to represent their empire, but I was there on my own. But hey, I guess I can't be too choosy at that point."

"What did you discuss?"

"Well, the community was severely distressed by a war between the alliance known as the Lolehndra Prosperity Sphere and the Kideshi Irenic Confederation, a xenophobic isolationist society much like ours. The Prosperity Sphere was an alliance led by the Lolhendra Interstellar Union and its several satellite states. One of the Sphere's members were apparently calling to 'liberate' the Kideshi."
"When the senate called in, it was utter chaos. The various Prosperity Sphere members were constantly trying to call upon sanctions toward the Kideshi but a lot of other empires strongly opposed them, trying to find more mutually beneficial actions that could end the war," says Thodrig.

"That's interesting. Could you perhaps tell me more about the other nations? Even back at St. Jorim's we don't get that much info on them."

Thodrig smiles at me. "I like your enthusiasm, Rodrig."
______________________________________________________________________
The humans of the United Federation were one of the main founders of the Galactic Community. Don't confuse these people for the other human empire, the Kingdom of Terra Firma. They are part of the Pan-Galactic Treaty Organization with the Iridians. They want to seek closer relations with us, but right now... our government would haves us rather keep to ourselves. Human Diplomat Jean-Jacques Warambi was a friend of mine while I was there, I kind of miss him.

empire_federation.jpeg

The next founder was the Iridian Republic. They stood out because walked around in specialized suits. Apparently, they live in large space stations and their species conformed to the constant air filtration their void dwellings had, which resulted in them having very weak immune systems. However, there are a couple brave Iridian pioneers on various worlds who decided to brave the constant illnesses in the hope of adapting to it.

empire_iridian.jpeg

The third and final main founder of the Galactic Community was the Lolehndra Interstellar Union. They were the hegemon of the Prosperity Sphere I told you about earlier. As friendly and amicable they are toward everyone, their legions of slaves in their homeworld give a manipulative air to them. I gotta be honest with you, I don't really trust them that much.

empire_lolehendra.jpeg

A member of the Lolehndra Prosperity Sphere is the Sovereignty of Witris. This totalitarian nation directly borders us but despite our differences, the nation is still somewhat friendly towards us. But just like any other nation, our government would rather keep their distance.

empire_witris.jpeg
Another member of the Sphere is the Democratic Cue-Vab? Cuvab? I'll just call them the Democratic Planet-States. This republic is backed by many merchants and their political parties are just a collection of trade unions with different philosophies. Their trading ships tend to travel to our systems a lot in the hopes of striking a deal, but they are almost always turned away by our border guards. I kind of like them because I heard that they guided a primitive civilization to achieving FTL much like the Yondar to us. This vassal nation is known as the Wacegi Star Coalition

empire_planet-states.jpeg

A nation that isn't part of the Galactic Community but is of particular concern is the Greater Mishari Confederacy, a genocidal empire that wishes to exterminate all life that isn't Mishari out of some form of radical religious dogma that I don't know about. They aren't doing anything right now but I'm sure they're a powder keg waiting for a fuse to set if off.

"What about the Tavarite Storm?"

We have no way to contact that devouring swarm. The hivemind has no need for a rudimentary language so it does not use one. It's essentially a large pre-sapient if you ask me.

empire_mishari.jpeg

A truly fascinating member empire in the Galactic Senate is the United Garraxi COnsensus. Much like us but so different as well. See, they are a scion much like us. They are the scion of the Kraxrox Archivists. They see our faith as completely false, but much like our government, they don't trust anyone as well.

empire_consensus.jpeg

The Belmacosa High Kingdom is a plantoid empire who believe that their species are the chosen rulers of the galaxy according to a divine prophecy and that all other beings in the galaxy were created to serve their god and their chosen people. They're rather friendly but they act like they're better than everyone else.

empire_belcamosa.jpeg

The Kingdom of Terra Firma is a lost colony of the United Federation. The royal families and merchant guilds of the kingdom came from a line of people who managed to bring order as the colonists were left stranded on their homeworld. Their homeworld of Terra Firma is apparently very barren in natural resources and the empire largely relies on trade with other empires for survival. Our distance from each other is quite big, so their merchant ships don't arrive in our borders at all.

empire_terrafirma.jpeg
The Panaxala Commissariat is a militarist democracy that wants to rule the galaxy. I tend to think of them as a secularized Belmacosa High Kingdom. Oddly enough, their ruler isn't Panaxala.

empire_commissariat.jpeg
species_panaxala.jpeg


Next, there is the Kideshi Irenic Confederation. They directly border us and are isolationist as well. However, I have heard of a rising xenophilic movement in their empire that fights for the rights of another species that resides in the Confederation. If that movement succeeds, then they would become an example for us all.

empire_kideshi.jpeg

Lastly, there is the United Kingdom of Emaris. A neighboring empire who became infamous after evidence suggested that they supported the Final Crucible. The High Ruban assigned Ruban Jargim to act as an envoy to that nation but he was promptly removed from the position after the Emarian Government complained of how repugnant and rude he was. The United Kingdom of Emaris is also part of the Lolehndra Prosperity Sphere.

empire_emaris.jpeg

______________________________________________________________________
"So after he was removed from the position..." I say.

"Yeah, I was then sent to Emaris in his place. The government didn't want any war so maintaining at least a decent reputation with our neighbors was of importance."

"Could you tell me about your time in there?"

"Sure, Rodrig... Sure..."
______________________________________________________________________
aar_galaxy_all.jpeg

aar_galaxy_north.jpeg

aar_galaxy_south.jpeg
 

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Two scions - so much in common yet so very different :)